Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Some restaurants do it while others do not.

What I am speaking of, is how a restaurant handles their favorite, every day and regular customers.  I know from personal experience and managing a restaurant, that you want to treat your regular customers even nicer than you would a new customer but should refrain from doing so.  You still want the new customers to become regulars and because of that you need to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally.

This past Saturday, I went with my family to Schottzies Bar & Grill. I chose this location for our lunch, partly because it has always been there and I have never been in before and because Andrew was there for his show: Bizarre Foods America.  Although I know that the routine practice for the producer of shows like this is to call ahead or meet the owners and staff and set it up, so these restaurants look packed and everyone is so friendly and so forth, I still wanted to bring my family in and try some food.  So, it was my first time.

The building is easy to get to as it is across the street from Olive Garden and it is sandwiched between two streets so you can access it either way.  We opened the door and walked inside.  It was cold, dark and we noticed about 7-8 televisions all playing different channels.  There was enough going on that someone who was ADD would go nuts.  There were two visible servers: one sitting at the bar chatting with some regulars and another sitting on a chair by the far door.  The bartender was chatting with the 4 people at the bar, with the server and there were 4 other people at two tables ordering food. My wife and I picked a table and sat our kids down, ready to be served and try the food.  As soon as we sat down, the waitress who was sitting at the bar chatting, noticed us, got up and came over.  We ordered our drinks, which on the menu were 2 Sprites, a Mello Yello and an iced tea. What I think was odd, is that after seeing the bill, when we were finished, three out of four of the drinks we had ordered were not the drinks we had received.  I know it may sound like that big of a deal to some, but it leads way that not only is their website out of date, but the menu is also.  Instead of Sprite, we were given Slice and instead of Mello Yello, we were given Mountain Dew.

So, after our drinks came, which would put us at about 5 minutes after we had sat down, we had ordered our food.  I didn't have the guts to order a brain sandwich.  I'm sorry.  I know that this restaurant is famous for it, but just wasn't feeling like it so I didn't do it.  We ordered the Appetizer Combination Platter and the Fried Chicken Livers, we also ordered a pepper burger and a Buffalo Chicken pizza.  Then we waited, and waited and waited.  While we waited, we watched the table behind us get their food, eat it while chatting, pay, leave and then a father and daughter sit there and order and get their food.  We watched another table get their pizza, eat half of it, ask for a box and a check and pay and leave.  We watched a table of three come in, order food and get their food.  We watched a group come in of 3 adults and 4 kids, order their food and get it.  We also watched a man walk right in from the door, say hi to everyone as they all acknowledged him and chatted with him.  He sat down and within minutes had a pizza delivered to him so he could eat that.  We waited 40 minutes, with my kids complaining about how long the food was taking.  We had to flag a waitress down, ask her to check with our waitress, who was no where to be seen, and see how long our food was going to be.  It was quite apparent, that we were being ignored.  Everyone that was there, besides us, were recognized by one of the two servers or the bar tender.  They would chat for a few seconds and then get their orders done.  Now, 40 minutes after we had walked into the door, when I did flag down our server and she came over, I asked her how much longer our food was going to take.  She responded with "it will be out any second", which is restaurant code for "I screwed up and I have to tell the cooks to do it".

We got the appetizers, 45 minutes after we walked in the door and sat down.  Our appetizers, this Combination Platter, was so hot that the filling inside of the toasted ravioli had burned the inside of my mouth.  Having an appetizer tray, with mini tacos, chicken strips, cheese filled bread sticks, and toasted ravioli, come out that hot after 40 minutes from ordering, meant that someone forgot our order and just cooked it.  On top of that, everything tasted like it was frozen at one point and then just heated up.  A miserable tray. Nothing on the tray, in my experience, takes longer than 6 minutes to deep fry and cook.  The cheese filled bread sticks, probably take 5 minutes in an oven, the mini tacos, toasted ravioli and chicken strips probably only took 3 each.  I would give the combination try a 2 out of 5 stars meaning that it was okay, but I would not order it again.

My ordered appetizer, was the fried chicken livers and they came at the same time.  The first bite, if you could get to it, was tasty, with the white gravy.  The problem was that not only were these big chunks of liver, but they appeared to have been quadruple breaded and then fried.  I mean that the breading was so hard and crunchy that they were almost as hard as a jawbreaker.  They were no colored light like other people's pictures on websites and in their reviews, but ours were almost a mud brown, like they were over cooked.  I would give these a 1 out of 5 because after trying to eat the first one, I don't know how I would tackle eating another one.

Another 10 minutes after the appetizers came out, we finally had gotten our main courses.  Here is the thing, they were also piping hot.  A burger, drenched in black pepper and cooked to well-done when I had asked for medium, can be cooked well within 10 minutes.  The pizza, which was a 14 inch thin St. Louis style pizza and crust, should not take more than 10 minutes either, especially when the chicken was cooked ahead of time. So, we got our pizza, like it just came out of the oven and was so hot that if you held it at an angle, the cheese would drip off.  When cooled, it was okay.  The breaded and fried chicken, was a tad spicy, but seemed like it was frozen at one point.  So, the chicken was overly cooked, the pizza crust was just right and the onions were under cooked.  My wife and I thought it was a bit strange that when we had ordered the pizza, our server didn't ask if we wanted the chicken to be breaded or grilled, as indicated on the menu. However, we received the breaded chicken, which suggests that if the server doesn't ask and you don't tell them, you will get breaded chicken by default. I'd give the pizza a 2 out of 5 as it was okay and I wouldn't order it again.

The burger had some good flavors: the pepper crust was nice, the pat of butter on the patty was a nice touch, the onions were fresh, the thick slice of tomato was deep red and tasted like a real tomato and not a gassed one and there was a nice large leaf of crisp lettuce.  It looked good but do you know what happens when you mix a lot of pepper and a dry and well done burger together?  "Bleh".  I mean, maybe it wasn't entirely "bleh", but it was really close.  When you use the white gravy from the fried chicken livers and dip your overly peppered well done meat into it and it tastes better than before, then you don't have a very good product.  I understand that they had a little anecdote about the peppered burger stating that it was "Not for the faint of heart!", but it tasted of nothing but pepper.  You could have taken anything, rolled it in the pepper coating and placed it on a bun and it would have been like the same thing.  All I tasted was fresh vegetables and pepper: like a salad.  I'd give the burger a 2 out of 5 as well because while it was edible, I would not recommend it to anyone.

So, overall, the food wasn't what I was expecting.  I have always known that this bar and grill was there and thought that it had to have some decent food, in order to stay in business this long.  I guess it relied on the "brain sandwich" to keep it in business because from what we had of the other food, there is no way that food can keep this place afloat.  I can see that out of the online reviews currently existing, on Yelp.com, out of the 8 of them, none of them rated this place 5 stars.  They have some 2, 3, and 4 star reviews.  The reviews would suggest that if you come in the evening, you would have great food and service.  However, the original title of this is about regular guests and it is very true now.  You see that while we were there, we watched people, who were called by their names, by the servers, get their food faster than us, and get friendly service.  I mean, I actually had to flag the second server, not the one who was taking care of us, in order to have her check with our server and see how much longer our food was taking.  People who had just walked in, were greeted within seconds and then asked their food and drink order.  I kid you not: the people to our right, walked in about 20 minutes after we did and then before our appetizers had come out, they had food on their table.  My wife and I 100% agree, that had we been someone who had come before or even just once a week, we would have had excellent service.  In conclusion; I cannot honestly suggest or recommend that anyone ever go to Schottzies for food.  It was not kid friendly, the food was not fresh, it certainly took about 45 minutes to deliver us something that takes 6 minutes in a 385 degree fryer and the service was almost non-existent.  It was almost as if they would have been happier had we not eaten there. I'm sorry Schottzies, but you are a big loser in my book.  You not only pissed off a small family on their weekend but a food writer.  Good luck with that.


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